Saturday, January 3, 2009

Indigenous People's Communities and Villages: Relocation Due to Climate Change

The other day I received this query from colleague Mark Dowie and was asked to share it. He is searching for examples of indigenous communities, villages, or towns that have had to relocated due to climate change. If you know of an example, please leave a comment.


I am writing to seek your assistance for a book I am researching, tentatively entitled THE CANARY NARRATIVES: How Twenty Million Lost Their Homelands. I am in search of remote communities, indigenous and non-indigenous, that have been forced to abandon longstanding, traditional homelands as a consequence of climate change. I am hoping to describe in detail the experience of about a dozen communities existing in as many different ecosystems – montane, island, arctic, riverine, desert, forest, savannah, coastal etc.— that have been so devastated by storm, drought, flood, heat, wildfire, disease or other consequences of global warming, that the place that once supported them became unlivable and people were either forced off their land by fate or opted to relocate.
Indigenous Alaska Native Village Damaged Climate Change
Two examples I am already researching are Shishmaref, a storm battered coastal community in northeast Alaska, whose residents recently voted to relocate, and Lateu, a village on Tegua Island in Vanuatu I visited two years ago that has since been forced to move to higher ground by rising ocean levels. I have others in mind but need more to choose from.

If you know of even one community that has shared this experience, could you tell me as much as you can about it and perhaps provide the names and coordinates of others familiar with the community, particularly people with direct and immediately experience with the decision making process that lead to evacuation. I am particularly interested in finding tropical, montane, alpine, desert and riverine communities.

Thank you,
Mark Dowie
Tegua Island Indigenous Community Climate Change
If people know of examples of indigenous communities moving or relocating as a result of climate change, please leave a comment. This is an important issue, and I am sure we will be hearing of more indigenous communities moving in the near future due to climate change.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 24-30, 2008: Five Key Indigenous Peoples Issues

Five Important Indigenous People's Issues for the Week of December 24 - 30, 2008

Canada: Dene Leader Takes Message To United Nations

The Dene National chief is tired of the federal government's failure to represent aboriginal people on issues of climate change.

Arctic regions are more sensitive to the affects of global warming than other regions was the message Bill Erasmus brought to Poznan, Poland. He attended a United Nations climate change conference there earlier this month to speak about climate shift and what it means for the North's indigenous peoples.

He also criticized the Canadian government for not adequately representing aboriginal people when it comes to the issue.

"The way the United Nations works is only nation-states have a say at the table," said Erasmus.

"So indigenous peoples there didn't have an equal opportunity to say the things they wanted to, to fully participate."

Erasmus represented the Arctic Athabaskan Council - with members from Alaska, the Yukon and NWT - at the negotiations and said because the Canadian government has not lived up to its obligations under the Kyoto protocol, Canada's delegation United Nations conferences do not speak for indigenous people or many people in Canada.

"We have to have the right to speak for ourselves," he said. "The federal government does not represent our people at the table."

Erasmus pointed to Canada's refusal to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was brought up at the negotiations. Erasmus said he was disappointed federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice chose not to support the issue when it came up. Read more about Erasmus at the UN here....

Fiji: Indigenous People's Rights A Must

Sixty years ago, in 1948, the World was still reeling from the shock of the human rights abuses which occurred during World War II when they signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). During World War II, millions of civilians were killed and tortured based on their race or religion, and the World was determined to prevent the reoccurrence of crimes against humanity on this scale. The International recognition of core human rights which were considered universal and egalitarian was a major development for human rights.

The Declaration enshrined core beliefs on human rights and fundamental freedoms such as the right to life, the right to liberty, freedom of expression and equality before the law. The concept of human rights in this sense was nothing new, and was already encoded in various national constitutions, legislation and treaties, such as the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the French Declaration on the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) and the English Magna Carta (1215). The UDHR received unanimous support from UN Member states and was the most significant event in modern human rights development.

Since then, there have been a number of international conventions which promote and protect human rights, including but not limited to:-

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976);
  • International Covenant on Economical, Social and Cultural Rights (1976);
  • Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (1969);
  • Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (1981);
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990);
  • Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992);
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006); and most recently,
  • Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
Read more about protecting human rights here....

Borneo: Indigenous Women Earn A Pittance Weaving Rattan For Japan

It is almost 11 a.m. and Ati has already been working with rattan peels for four hours.

Yet, even though the pay is low, Ati, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name, maintains complete concentration while weaving a piece of rattan carpet destined to fetch a high price in Japan.

The 48-year-old woman is weaving a "kati," popularly known in Japan as a rattan "ajiro" carpet, a hand-woven mat made of rattan with peels only 2 mm in width and woven diagonally.

She lives in Kapuas, a small village in Borneo's Central Kalimantan Province peopled mostly by indigenous Dayaks.

Half the population of about 2,000 earns a living in the rattan carpet industry.

Compared with other weavers, though, Ati is a major talent. She is always assigned to weave the "super-quality" ajiro carpets made of sega, or Calamus caesius, a species of rattan found only in the wilds of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Sega's uniquely glossy golden surface makes it highly sought after for tatami mats and rattan carpets for the Japanese market. Read more about indigenous Dayaks weaving here....

Arctic: Indigenous Arctic Peoples Claim Their Right To Cold Temperatures

"Terrifying" is the word that best describes the situation of a hunter who is lost on shifting ice, or of the homeowner whose house splits in two when its foundation sinks, says Canadian indigenous leader Mary Simon when asked about the effects of global warming on the Inuit people.

Climate change is rapidly changing the ecology of the Arctic and creating a crisis for the 160,000 indigenous people in the region, collectively known as Inuit, who are thinly spread along the edges of the Arctic Ocean in Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the U.S. state of Alaska.

The region is too cold for trees, and only grass and small bushes can survive the short three-month summer where temperatures average 6 to 8 degrees Celsius.

During the nine-month cold season the land and sea are snow-covered and frozen. In winter, because the sun does not rise over the horizon, darkness reigns 24 hours a day and the average temperature is -30 degrees C, reaching -60 C on the coldest of days.

Despite these challenging conditions, the Inuit have survived there for thousands of years, hunting seals, walrus, whales and caribou.

They once lived in houses made of whalebone and thick clumps of grass and earth, as well as houses made of snow. Today they live in wooden houses made of materials imported from thousands of kilometres away.

But their land of snow and ice that sustained them for so long is melting as average temperatures climb two to three times faster than anywhere else in the world.

"We live off the land hunting and fishing for our food, but that is getting harder and harder because everything is changing," Simon told Tierramérica.

Leader of Canada’s Inuit and former Canadian ambassador to Denmark, Simon was born in the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq, in the extreme north of Quebec province. Tierramérica spoke with her in Quebec City. Read more about arctic climate change here....

International: Worst Companies In The World: US, Monsanto, Peabody and Barrick

The United States was voted the "Worst Company in the World," in a reader poll conducted by the Censored News blog that ended today. Readers, primarily Indigenous Peoples, voted Monsanto as the second Worst Company in the World. Peabody Energy Corp., recently granted a life of mine permit to expand coal mining on Navajo and Hopi lands, was voted the third Worst Company in the World.

Barrick Gold Corp., which began the destruction of the Western Shoshone's Mount Tenabo region during Thanksgiving, was voted the fourth Worst Company in the World. Blackwater Worldwide, responsible for murders and brutality worldwide, was voted the fifth Worst Company in the World. GEO Group, Inc., formerly Wackenhut, profiteering from the misery of migrants and people of color in prisons, was voted the sixth Worst Company in the World.

Cameco uranium mining and Sithe Global/Navajo Nation, tied for the seventh Worst Company in the World. Israel's Elbit Systems and Raytheon tied for eighth place. Boeing, constructing the US/Mexico Apartheid Border Wall, followed in ninth place. Newmont Mining was voted the 10th Worst Company in the World by the readers of Censored News blog, which focuses on the censored news of Indigenous Peoples and international human rights.

The United States emerged in truth as one of the worst violators of international human rights during the Bush regime, with torture, kidnappings and secret renditions in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The bogus war in Iraq resulted in the widespread murder and displacement of Iraqi people. Corporations seized the freefall of US democracy, with mercenaries, private prison profiteers and war manufacturers reveling in their profits. During the Bush regime, the United States ceased to be viewed as a democracy by many US citizens, who now view the United States as a company comprised of select individuals seeking corporate gain and control. Read more about the worst companies in the world here....

Last weeks Five Key Indigenous People's Issues can be found here.

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